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    Kaminarimon Gate at Kannon Temple Asakusa by Tamagawa Schucho

    With the Olympics less than two weeks away there is right now a rare chance to brush up on matters Japanese – specifically the floating world known as ukiyo-e that expressed the ambitions of the common townspeople of the Edo period¬† – at the marvellous Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle.¬† Edo in Colour: Prints from Japan’s Metropolis explores how woodblock prints shaped fashion, fame and identity in Edo, the city now known as Tokyo.

    During the Edo period (c1603-1868) Japan and its arts flourished in isolation from the rest of the world.  By the late 1630’s foreigners were officially prohibited as traditions of the past were revived, refined, parodied and transformed by expanding societies during the relatively peaceful 250 years when the Tokugawa shoguns ruled. In urban Edo a witty and irreverent expression surfaced in the visual and literary arts which gave rise to Kabuki Theatre and the woodblock prints of ukiyo-e. Chester Beatty offers pictures of actors and beauties with masterpieces by Hokusai and Hiroshige and many more from the library’s renowned collection. The exhibition features more than 100 prints and printed books from Edo.  Shown in two parts between now and December the exhibition will close for a week on August 30 to allow for a changeover.  There are various opportunities to explore this fascinating world online and through the accompanying catalogue.  Don’t miss it.

    Party under Wisteria Trellis by Chobunsai Eishi

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